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Mitch Mitchell

As the drummer in the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Mitch Mitchell was one of the greatest and most influential rock drummers of the 1960s. Mitchell's style was a blend of the abandon of someone like Keith Moon, with the jazz complexity of an Elvin Jones or a Joe Morello. While no one, including Mitchell, could match Moon for sheer rock power, it's also true that Mitchell had the technique to handle some rhythms and patterns that were beyond Moon's abilities. Mitchell was drummer on all of the Hendrix Experience's recordings and some of his post-Experience solo outings, and was still in his touring band when Hendrix died in September 1970.

Mitchell was a former child actor who had starred in the BBC children's television series “Jennings” before he was even in his teens. By the early 1960s he was concentrating on his drumming, and gained experience in bands such as Pete Nelson and the Travellers and the Coronets. He also started doing some session work, and was a member of the Riot Squad, who had about a half-dozen soul-rock singles in the mid-1960s without getting a hit. He played on some of the Pretty Things' second album, Get the Picture. He was considered for the permanent drum seat in the band when Viv Prince left, but passed over in favor of Skip Alan, whom the Pretties felt to have a more suitable personality.

Mitchell played with Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames during 1965 and 1966, but was fired in October 1966 when the lineup disbanded. The day after the firing, Chas Chandler invited him to audition for the group being formed around Jimi Hendrix. Mitchell beat out a lot of top young talent in London, including the other finalist, Aynsley Dunbar. Chandler later said that, unable to make up their minds, he and Hendrix tossed a coin, the flip coming out, fortunately for everyone concerned (except Dunbar), in Mitchell's favor. Mitchell was not a mere sideman to Hendrix, but an important collaborator. Always changing rhythms, never predictable, he was also flexible enough to bounce off and respond to Hendrix's own original solo lines. This was evident on the very first singles and the trio's first album, Are You Experienced?, as can be heard on the thrilling drum parts on tracks like “Purple Haze”, “Hey Joe”, “Fire,” “Foxy Lady”,”Third Stone from the Sun,” “I Don't Live Today” and “Manic Depression.” Axis: Bold As Love produced such great drum tracks as “Little Wing” “Castles Made of Sand”, “Wait Until Tomorrow” and many more.

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